J.J.'s Top of the Swamp
Update 7/3/13: is closed.
Update 4/20/12: J.J.'s Top of the Swamp is not closed; just for sale (see comment).
In a word: A decent burger to go with your pack of second-hand.
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JM ate the bacon cheese burger with fries and a lemonade.
Nichole ate the French onion soup, BBQ sandwich with chips, and a lemonade.
We split an order of mozzarella sticks.
The bill was $25, or $12.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave J.J.'s Top of the Swamp a B; Nichole gave J.J.'s Top of the Swamp a C+ (see our grading rubric).
J.J.'s Top of the Swamp is, in fact, at the south end of the Cherokee Marsh. We can only speculate why it's not J.J.'s Marsh Bottom.
It's got a pretty high swivel-factor, and since it's outside the city of Madison, smoking is back in the picture. The kitschy touches were the organic kind that accumulate over time, not the TGI Friday's kind that exude from the walls of chain bars. There was a glowing Virgin Mary above the coat rack, though she wasn't plugged in at the time.
The eats were just slightly above-average bar food. JM enjoyed his meal more than Nichole did, due in no small part to the outstanding lemonade. Poured right from the mixer bottle (the kind designed to be cut by liquor), it was strong, sweet and sour, and refreshing.
Nichole's French onion soup arrived hot, topped with croutons. The solids in the beef broth had clumped up a bit (just to the eye, not the tongue) and she had to fish out the tough end of an onion, but the flavor was OK.
Though J.J.'s offers burgers like the "Hank" and the "Killer," JM opted for a standard: the bacon cheeseburger. The bun:meat ratio skewed bready, and veggies would have cost extra; still, it was fine. The fries were coated and served hot, but weren't compelling enough to finish.
The J.J.'s special BBQ sandwich had a bun that was toasted and buttered to perfection. It even held up under a mountain of shredded pork. The meat itself was gloppy, very sweet, and sticky, but lacked a smoky body to ground it. The basket came with kettle chips.
As much as JM can't stand smoky, swively bars, this one was pretty good. Nichole probably wouldn't make a special trip.